Trophy Life

Football playoffs inspire a rush to warm weather. Before going, huddle with experts who know the score


(page 1 of 2)

College bowl games, with all of their pageantry and tradition — are magnets for sports fans in search of a little winter R&R. And when a Big Ten team from Michigan earns an invitation to play, travel planning heats up. We asked Detroit News sportswriter Lynn Henning for his insider’s observations of six bowl venues. To his observations, we add the expertise of Bonnie Newcomer of Departure Travel Management in Birmingham and Jill Jones of Cadillac Travel, Southfield.

If you’re staying home, remember that Detroit hosts the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl (formerly the Motor City Bowl) right here in town on Dec. 26.

Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 1:

“It hasn’t the glamour of the other New Year’s Day bowls, but don’t underestimate the Gator Bowl — or Jacksonville. It’s on the ocean, it has big-city amenities, and it’s a great place from which to launch a more wide-ranging trip. You can spend a day at nearby Amelia Island, or take a spin down I-4 to St. Augustine, or to New Smyrna Beach. Think also about driving 45 minutes north and finding a different brand of Old South charm at Georgia’s Golden Isles (Sea Island, St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island).”

  • Airfare: From $330/person, round trip.
  • Hotels: Hampton Inn Jacksonville from $149/night + tax;
Omni Jacksonville from $180/night +tax.
  • Attractions: Museums, golfing, parks.
  • January average high temperature: 655

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 1:

“This is the best of all bowl stops. Part of the allure is its timing. The game kicks off at 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time), New Year’s Day, and ogling that Southern California sun as it’s getting dark in these parts sparks its share of lust. But it’s also about venue. The Rose Bowl is a 90,000-seat answer to the Roman Coliseum, tucked within a Pasadena canyon known as the Arroyo Seco, with background views of the San Gabriel Mountains. For decades, it has been the blue-ribbon bowl for a Big Ten team, and the fact it’s played in Hollywood’s backyard simply adds to the cachet.”


  •  Airfare: From $350/person, round trip
  •  Hotels: Hilton Pasadena from $299/night + taxes; Embassy Suites Glendale from $299/night + taxes
  •  Attractions: Museums, theater, The Gamble House, and, of course, the Tournament of Roses Parade.
  •  January average high temperature: 68

Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla., Jan. 1:

“This game shares a time slot (1 p.m., New Year’s Day) with the Capital One Bowl and offers pretty much the same attractions. You’re 30 minutes from Disney World, and also within a short drive of the Tampa Bay beaches. Lots of restaurants, bars, and shopping, with aquariums, charter fishing, and more golf.” 



  • Airfare: From $275/person, round trip.
  •  Hotels: Courtyard Marriott Downtown from $140/night + taxes; 
Hyatt Regency Tampa from $237/night + taxes.

  •  Attractions: Busch Gardens, The Riverwalk.
  •  January average high temperature: 70



“There’s no such thing as ‘typical’ when you’re talking bowl games,” says Jill Jones, of Cadillac Travel in Southfield. “We advise our clients that we work with tour operators that specialize in sporting events. There can be major issues with tickets if they’re not done with an authorized seller. The hotels will also require minimum stays. Pricing for these packages are high, at approximately $1,150 per person for air, a three-night hotel stay, and tickets (end zone). Often, these hotels are not that close.”
Good hotels (that fill up right away) include: The Langham, Pasadena; Waldorf Astoria, Orlando; Westin Harbor Island, Tampa; Hyatt Jacksonville Riverfront, Jacksonville; The Buttes, Tempe; The Mansion at Turtle Creek, Dallas.



Dallas Football Classic, Dallas, Texas, Jan. 1:

“No state has more fun than Texas. You want a beer? They’ll join you. Care for some barbecue? They’re game. Ready for a bit of two-steppin’ at the country-and-western saloon? Well, what are you waiting for, darlin’? No wonder they’re crazy for football in these parts. They’re hooked on pleasure.”


  •  Airfare: From $375/person, round trip.
  •  Hotels: Sheraton Dallas from $160/night + taxes; Dallas Marriott City Center from $240/night + taxes.
  •  Attractions: Watch bull riding at the rodeo, West End Historic District (more than 100 shops/restaurants), Texas Fair, Aquarium.
  •  January average high temperature: 55


Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Men's Spring Fashion: On The Town

Men's Spring Fashion.

Fall Arts Preview: Upcoming Events

Cultural life is especially vibrant this season. In this section, we offer a glimpse of upcoming exhibits, concerts, and drama, along with an introduction to the fresh faces of the DSO and a look inside a new book devoted to Detroit’s architecturally stunning churches.

2011 Men's Holiday Fashion

MAN ABOUT TOWN: A throwback to an earlier, classic era projects an undeniably suave, masculine appeal.

Best of Detroit 2011

Thousands of readers — the largest number ever — played favorites in online voting for Hour Detroit’s 2011 Best of Detroit list. Check out the 258 winners, and then go play tourist in your own hometown.

Best of Detroit 2013

Thousands of readers selected their favorites in online voting for Hour Detroit’s 2013 Best of Detroit list. Find out who joined the league of over 500 superheroes in the city!
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Top Docs List 2018
  2. Memories of Miya
    Citizen Yoga founder, Kacee Must Leeb reflects on her sister’s suicide, its impact on her...
  3. Introducing the Piekie
    These cookie-shaped pies win big on-screen and off
  4. The Sixth Man
    A youth basketball coach teaches lessons on and off the court
  5. Seeking Support
    Like many metro areas across the U.S., finding a therapist in and around Detroit can prove to be...
  6. Therapy in the Digital Age
    New innovations that revolutionize traditional approaches to counseling
  7. Food Recipe: Chili
    Michael Keys, of Red Crown in Grosse Pointe Park, shares his favorite chili recipe
  8. Author's Cuisine
    At M Cantina in Dearborn, Junior Merino is creating a new kind of Mexican cuisine that is...
  9. Mending Migraines
    Nausea, excruciating head pain, sensitivity to light and noise: The oppressiveness of the list of...
  10. Seeing Clearly
    The co-founders behind Genusee on making eyewear with a mission